Adviser resigns after Kan. school suspends her in wake of paper’s articles on teen sex

KANSAS— A high school newspaper adviser resigned March 9 after being placedon paid administrative leave because of a controversy over articles about sex inthe latest issue of the student newspaper. Salina Central High Schooljournalism adviser Jenny Acree informed the Salina School District that she wasresigning because of “personal reasons” after two weeks of paid leave,school board President Richard Brake said. The school board put Acree on leavepending the outcome of an investigation into the newspaper’s publication.Community reaction to The Pylon’s Feb. 13 issue, which containedarticles on teenage sexuality, received front-page coverage in the SalinaJournal for four days and was a topic on local talk radio. Several radiocallers who considered the articles inappropriate for teenagers made personalattacks against Acree, said Brenna Hawley, The Pylon’s features editor.At a subsequent school board meeting, students said they apologized for thearticles.One article, titled “Sex is Sex,” quoted anonymous sources in adiscussion of whether oral sex is sex. The article included the results of asexual behavior survey of an undisclosed number of Salina Central students.Another article, filled with sexual innuendo, provided a “recipe” for “SmellsLike Sodomy Pot Roast.” Hawley said she learned of Acree’sresignation from a story in the Salina Journal.”I think Iunderstand why she [resigned],” Hawley said. “If she’d stayed, she would havelived her life under a microscope. If any tiny mistake had been in the paper,she would have gotten lots of comments from the community.”Acree did notrespond to requests for comment. Brake declined to comment further onAcree’s resignation, but he said publication of the newspaper would continue.”I feel that [sex] is a very appropriate topic for a high schoolnewspaper if it’s done responsibly. I think there was much room for improvementin their journalistic skills,” Brake said, citing the sexual behavior survey,which contained no explanation of the survey’s methodology. In itsinvestigation, the school board found that students had followed district policyon student publications and that the school board cannot suppress or censor thearticles because of the Kansas Student Publications Act, which grants studentjournalists the right to publish controversial articles. Students areworking on the next issue of The Pylon under the supervision of asubstitute teacher. Hawley said the newspaper staff was told the school is”actively searching for a new teacher.”In addition to advising thenewspaper staff, Acree also advised the yearbook.